UK no longer a relocation hotspot for Chinese millionaires

Key Points
  • U.K. slumps below Canada as the most preferred emigration destination for Chinese millionaires.
  • U.S. emerges on top for the third year running.
  • A depreciating Yuan is the key concern driving wealthy Chinese people out of China.
Morning aerial view on London skyline from One Canada Square Tower aka Canary Wharf.
Pawel Libera | LightRocket | Getty Images

The U.K. has fallen out of favor as an emigration destination for China's wealthy, according to a new report which pips Canada in front.

The U.S. remains the preferred destination for Chinese millionaires considering a move overseas, but for the first time Britain has fallen behind Canada, the 2017 study by China's Hurun Research and Visa Consulting Group has found.

The report gave no reason for the U.K.'s demise, but a weaker sterling appears to have done little to entice China's wealthy to relocate to the Britain while it transitions through Brexit negotiations and continues to tighten the tax landscape for overseas investors.

Concerns over the falling value of the Chinese yuan are, however, a driving factor in Chinese millionaires' decision to relocate, the report suggests.

More than four-fifths (84 percent) of recent or would-be wealthy Chinese immigrants now say the devaluation of the yuan is their key motivation for relocating away from China – up 50 percent from last year and well ahead of concerns over pollution and healthcare.

The Chinese yuan has seen a gradual devaluation over recent years, prompting accusations of currency manipulation from President Donald Trump.

What is currency manipulation?

A total of 46.5 percent of China's rich say they plan to emigrate overseas. Aside from the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. – now in third place – Australia, Portugal and Spain ranked among the top ten most popular destinations for Chinese millionaires looking to safeguard their savings and benefit from better education and healthcare.

For the first time this year, Malta, Antigua and Dominica, with their attractive investor visa programs, also appeared on the list.

The high levels of emigration mark something of a blow to the Chinese economy, which is currently undergoing a major reform program as it seeks to transition from a production-led economy to a service-led economy.

Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of the annual Hurun Report, said that the figures had fallen from a once stubborn 60 percent, but insisted that more structural reforms in education and the environment were needed to retain the country's wealthy.

"Education and pollution are driving China's rich to emigrate. If China can solve these issues, then the primary incentive to emigrate will have been taken away."

On Monday, China reported second-quarter gross domestic product growth of 6.9 percent, topping analyst expectations.